By Patrick Winderl and Tim Leeds/Havre Daily News
Local voters Tuesday will cast ballots for three county offices, including county attorney and county commissioner. Voters will also decide whether to make permanent a tax for the Havre-Hill County Library, and whether to establish study commissions to review local government.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Two Democrats are running for Hill County attorney, who is responsible for prosecuting felony cases and advising county officials on legal matters. Incumbent Cyndee Peterson will face challenger Dan Boucher, and the winner will run against Republican candidate Randy Randolph in the November general election.
Peterson and Boucher both applied for the county attorney job last year after then County Attorney David Rice was appointed to a district judgeship. Peterson was chosen as Rice's interim successor by the Hill County Commission, but is required by law to run for the remaining two years of Rice's term.
Peterson, a Circle native, graduated from law school in 1997, and was a deputy county attorney under Rice. Prior to that, she was a law clerk for former District Judge John Warner, who is now a state Supreme Court justice.
Boucher, who has operated a private practice in Havre for 20 years, was also a deputy county attorney under Rice.
In the race for Hill county commissioner, three Democrats are vying for the six-year term up for election this year. The candidates are: local firefighter Mike Anderson, farmer and Hill County reserve deputy Tim Herron, and area rancher and implement salesman Jeff LaVoi. Voters on Tuesday will decide which of three will face Republican Jody Manuel and independent Wyatt Dahlin in November.
Democratic incumbent Pat Conway is not seeking re-election.
The other county office up for election this year is clerk of District Court. Incumbent Dena Tippets is running unopposed.
Judge Rice, who is running for retention, also will appear on the ballot.
Hill County voters will be asked to make permanent a tax for the Havre-Hill County Library. Voters approved the 3-mill levy five years ago. Proponents say the tax is needed to ensure the continuation of programs and services offered by the library. The tax amounts to about $7 a year for a $100,000 home.
This year's primary election ballot also asks voters whether they want to form local government study commissions. Over the course of two years, the commissions would hold meetings to collect public comment and then publish reports of their findings. If the commissions recommend any changes, the proposals would appear on the next election ballot for voter approval.
Voters countywide will decide whether to form a commission to analyze Hill County's government, and residents of the incorporated cities of Havre and Hingham will also be asked whether they want to establish study commissions for those municipalities.
If voters approve forming a commission, they will have to elect three people in November to serve on it.
In a separate ballot question Tuesday, voters will be asked whether they want to finance the work of a study commission through a 1-mill levy. Study commission members are not paid, but commissions often incur travel expenses and postage and publishing costs.
The value of 1 mill in Hill County is about $27,000, while those in Havre and Hingham are $7,600 and $154, respectively.
The actual taxes assessed could be less than those amounts, but voters will be asked to authorize a maximum of 1 mill. For the owner of a home worth $100,000, 1 mill equates to a tax of $2.34 for a Havre resident, and $3.30 for residents of Hingham and Hill County.
Tuesday's ballots also contain a number of legislative candidates.
The legislative redistricting done after the 2000 census has created new House and Senate districts.
Most legislative candidates in the Havre area are running unopposed in the primary. Only House District 29, which includes southeastern Chouteau County and Judith Basin County and part of Fergus County, has candidates facing off in the primary.
On the Democratic side, Oscar Cantu of Winifred faces Hugo Tureck of Coffee Creek. Sen. Edward Butcher, R-Winifred, who is unable to run for re-election in new Senate District 15, is facing Scott Seilstad of Denton in the Republican primary in HD 29.
In HD 28, which includes the northwestern part of Chouteau County, the northeastern part of Toole County and all of Liberty County, incumbent John Witt of Carter is the sole Republican candidate. He will face Democrat Garvey Wood of Loma in the general election.
The incumbents in two House districts that are now part of HD 32 are running unopposed in the primary. Democrat Jonathan Windy Boy of Rocky Boy and Republican Jeffrey Pattison of Glasgow will meet in the general election in the district, which covers parts of Hill, Blaine and Phillips counties and includes Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation and the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
In HD 33, which includes most of western Hill County, incumbent Bob Bergren of Havre is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Ken Wilson, also of Havre, is also unopposed in the Republican primary.
In HD 34, which includes northeastern Hill County and northern Blaine County, incumbent Democrat John Musgrove of Havre will face Republican Andrew Brekke of Harlem in the general election. Both candidates are unopposed on Tuesday.
Only one Senate seat in the Havre area is up for re-election. In Senate District 16, which includes parts of Hill, Blaine, Phillips and Valley counties, including Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and part of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, Rep. Frank Smith of Poplar, is unopposed in the Democratic primary. No Republican filed for the seat.
Hill County polling places are as follows: Precinct 1, the North Central Senior Citizens Center; Precinct 2, Havre-Hill County Library; Precinct 3, Havre Middle School; Precinct 4, Montana State University-Northern Student Union Building; Precinct 5, Hill County Courthouse; Precinct 6, MSU-N Student Union Building; Precinct 7, Sunnyside Intermediate School library; Precinct 8, Havre High School gym; Precinct 9, District IV Human Resources Development Council; Precinct 10, Lincoln-McKinley Primary School; Precinct 13, Highland Park Early Primary School; Precinct 14, North Star Dodge; Precinct 15, Hill County Electric Cooperative hospitality room; Precinct 16, U.S. Bank; Precinct 18, Box Elder School; Precinct 19, Kremlin School; Precinct 20, Gildford School; Precinct 21, Hi-Line Community Center; Precinct 22, Rudyard School; Precinct 23, Inverness School; Precinct 25, McIntosh Seeds; Precinct 28, Our Savior Lutheran Church.